America’s new president made a lot of promises on the campaign trail about what he would do on his very first day in office.
Donald Trump has now been in the White House since Friday, but he said before taking office that he regarded Monday as the real first working day in charge.
Let’s go with that, and check how many “first day” promises he kept on Monday.
In a major policy speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in October, Trump promised to do 18 specific things “on the first day of my first term in office”.
As far as we know, he actually did two of those 18 things.
As promised, he signed a memorandum announcing America’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
And he signed another memorandum instituting a hiring freeze on non-military federal government employees.
The final memorandum of the three that Trump issued on Monday reinstated the “Mexico City rule” which forbids the US government from funding foreign health organisations that promote abortion.
Other trade policies – like renegotiating the NAFTA deal and labeling China a “currency manipulator” were not dealt with on Monday.
Trump actually said he would start working on this in his very first hour. He told an audience in Des Moines, Iowa, on 27 August: “We will begin moving them out, day one. My first hour in office, those people are gone.”
He also said putting this plan into effect would be “the first thing I’m going to do, the first piece of paper that I’m going to sign” – but in fact he prioritised other things immediately after his inauguration.
The very first papers he signed on Friday confirmed various Cabinet appointments.
Trump also issued an executive order relating to Obamacare, signed a proclamation calling for a National Day of Patriotism, and issued a memorandum ordering a freeze on new federal regulations.
On deportations, in the early days of his presidential campaign Trump talked about deporting all undocumented immigrants – even though their numbers have been estimated at more than 11 million people.
More recently, he shifted the promise to removing illegal immigrants with a criminal record, putting the number at 2 to 3 million people, possibly based on an inflated reading of Department of Homeland Security statistics.
He has promised to create a new deportation task force “focused on identifying and quickly removing the most dangerous criminal illegal immigrants”.
But there was no sign of this new agency coming into being on Monday.
Trump said his team would spend their first day “implementing plans for construction of a wall along our southern border”. It’s not quite clear what “implementing plans” means so there may be some wriggle room here.
He later said he would pass an Act within 100 days of taking office which “fully funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall”.
Both the timing of this, and the admission that US taxpayers will initially pay for the construction work, represent a scaling-down of earlier rhetoric.
Asked about the lack of action on the Wall on Monday, Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer said: “He is doing everything he can to direct agencies and Congress to commence with that work as soon as possible.”
Repeal executive orders
In a speech in North Carolina in September, Trump announced: “We are going to eliminate every unconstitutional executive order and restore the rule of law to our land.”
There’s an ambiguity here about whether he plans to cancel all of Obama’s executive orders, or just the (unspecified) ones that he thinks are “unconstitutional”.
Obama issued 277 executive orders. At time of writing, Trump has made five presidential actions.
Only one – the memo on the Mexico City policy on not promoting abortion – directly cancelled out an Obama order.
On Friday, Trump issued an executive order telling government agencies to “minimise the economic burden” of the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare”. This didn’t directly eliminate an Obama order.
Trump listed ten further pieces of legislation to be completed within 100 days of taking office, including the full repeal and replacement of Obamacare with Health Savings Accounts.
In a speech in September, Vice President Mike Pence appeared to suggest that the Affordable Care Act would be repealed on the first day of the administration.
If that was indeed the suggestion, then it didn’t happen.
Another “day one” promise was to “suspend immigration from terror prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur”.
It failed to materialise.
Again, this promise was a significantly watered-down version of a pledge made on the campaign trail: Trump originally called for a “total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United State”.
He doubled down on the “Muslim ban” idea when challenged by journalists, but the promise was temporarily dropped from his website around election day.
Trump also said he would immediately suspend the US government programme to resettle Syrian refugees. But there was no word from the White House on any such order being given on Monday.
In September, Trump added to his already busy “first day in office” schedule, saying: “I am also going to convene my top generals and give them a simple instruction: They will have 30 days to submit to the Oval Office a plan for defeating ISIS.”
Trump’s schedule on Monday was widely circulated among journalists. Some of it, like a meeting with the CEOs of some of America’s biggest businesses, took place on camera.
There was no record of a meeting with top military staff.
In a riposte to Obama’s attempts to tighten gun controls, Trump told a rally last January he would scrap gun-free zones around schools and other facilities.
“My first day, it gets signed, O.K.?,” he said. “My first day. There’s no more gun-free zones.”
The zones are still very much in existence on Tuesday.
Trump promised to implement six measures aimed at rooting out corruption in Washington, including the civil service hiring freeze, new rules on lobbyists and a rule that two existing federal regulations must be scrapped for every new one introduced.
Only the hiring freeze has happened so far.